Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has begun to slow, with many offices establishing a timeline for their employees to return to work, the amount of organisations that still operate on a hybrid platform is extensive. Businesses are embracing the importance of protecting business data in a hybrid environment.
Working from home has made itself the ‘new normal’ regarding work conditions. Not only do most employers offer remote work, but most employees, both current and potential, expect it as an option. With this new flexibility comes the potential exposure of sensitive employee and business information to hackers and cybercriminals.
Clearly, it’s important that we find ways to keep this information safe while allowing employees to work from where they live, a path that broadens the talent pool and places a focus on the way productivity rises with a comfortable work-life balance.
The Necessary Steps to Protect Your Data
There are many options to protect your business data when operating on a hybrid work model, below we will look at some simple and achievable measures you can take.
The aim is to take advantage of the benefits of working remotely while mitigating the security risks to your business. To achieve this every employee should be on the same page. It never hurts to hold brief but regular refreshers on the importance of security at every company level.
Staff Security Reminders
It’s entirely okay to remind your employees that if they’re working remotely, it is crucial that they recall how they can best protect sensitive information. Everyone on board absolutely has security responsibilities, especially when they are toting laptops, paperwork, and other company information between the office, home, and various public working locations.
Moving Business Operations to The Cloud
Instead of storing data on local devices that have the potential for a security breach, it’s important to consider intertwining the modernisation of your legacy systems so they can operate on a security-rich cloud environment. The cloud allows employees access to the information they need from any internet connection, but does not store that information on their personal devices. This is a huge benefit when it comes to workplace data security and is easily achieved with a range of solutions readily accessible.
Flawless Password Hygiene
Password hygiene is a vital component of protecting business data in a hybrid environment. Many companies have some password hygiene set in place, such as asking employees to create a new password periodically. All employees should use complex but suitable passwords that they can remember when logging into work. Always stress to your employees how important it is to keep passwords private and to avoid simple and short passwords. A 12 character password is somewhat secure; however, the most secure passwords are 16 to 20 characters long and contain a combination of numbers, letters and symbols.
Most employees in this digital age are familiar with phishing. The unprovoked emails and text messages that come through asking them to click on an email link typically go unanswered. However, there are phishing scams that come across as incredibly legitimate, and it can be very difficult to leave them ignored. Teach employees how to recognize these scams, because the scammers are ever-evolving, and the verbiage used becomes more realistic and convincing by the day. It’s essential that we evolve along with them.
Proper Paperwork Disposal
Every person working in a hybrid model must understand how to properly dispose of important paperwork. As we move through our workdays, we all accumulate paperwork that is no longer important to our current project, but could contain sensitive company information. So many components of our work lives are digital these days, that employees can easily (and understandably) become forgetful of destroying important printed documents. A paper shredder is one of the best appliances for destroying sensitive information. If employees do not have access to a shredder, they can have their documents shredded at local office supply stores.
An Organised Workspace
Though it sounds incredibly simple, an organised workspace is an essential piece of the security puzzle. When employees know exactly where to locate sensitive paperwork and password notebooks, the chances of losing them or leaving them behind reduce. Encourage organisation in the office and at home. Even when working at home, there should be a space designated to keep work-related materials. Offer solutions to employees to assist them in coming up with ways to stay orderly, whether that be through encouraging email reminders or a budget to purchase office equipment.
Multi-Factor Authentication & More
Multiple layers of cyber security means, hands down, more security. The more safeguards you have, the less likely your company will be to suffer a data breach. Multi-factor authentication is important for anyone that logs into your company IT systems for work, make sure you are using it. Furthermore, you should consider firewalls, data encryption, and comprehensive antivirus software, which comes with all cloud software and paid memberships. Remember, the cloud lowers your risk of exposing sensitive information while increasing the ease of communication between teams.
Remote Wiping and Device Management
Remote wiping software is a software that enables administrators and IT teams to remotely wipe all data from a company device that has been reported lost or stolen. This adds peace of mind to business owners and security teams alike, but it’s important to stress here that the company information must be on a company-owned device. A personal device cannot be remotely wiped due to privacy infringements. With remote wiping software also comes device tracking and inventory, making it easier for businesses to keep track of equipment in a hybrid environment.
Keeping data secure in a hybrid world requires more than one approach. A great place to start is to only allow company-owned devices to connect to the business network. Employees should be prevented from installing software that has not been approved on company computers.
Business owners have to know what data is stored, where it’s located, and every person that has access to it. By putting some simple measures into place, you can achieve a significant increase in protection. It’s important to involve employees to ensure security measures are met and to enjoy data safety, regardless of where people are working.